News Stories

A first-class act

By Coast Guard Seaman Steve Strohmaier | Defense Information School | May 04, 2016

FORT MEADE, Md. --

In 2008, a sailboat became overdue after leaving port in Florida en route to Rhode Island.

Several air stations along the eastern seaboard dispatched helicopters to assist in the search. As the hours went by, the media became increasingly interested in the situation.

The Coast Guard public affairs representative for the case was then-Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lindberg.

“It got a lot of attention,” he said. “I was talking to media from Florida, talking to media from North Carolina, talking to media from New York.”

Lindberg, a recent graduate of the Defense Information School on Fort Meade, had been a public affairs specialist for only two weeks.

Since then, Lindberg has honed his public affairs skills through hard work and dedication with the Coast Guard and earned two advancements.

He was promoted to the rank of petty officer first class on April 1 at DINFOS.

Army Staff Sgt. David Chapman, his photojournalism team lead at DINFOS, said the advancement was well-deserved.

“He has already been doing all the work of an E-6, just without the paycheck,” Chapman said. “He brings a lot of experience to the table for the students.”

In a sense, Lindberg, a Bridgewater, Massachusetts native, was preparing to become a public affairs specialist before he joined the Coast Guard.

Lindberg was working on his bachelor’s degree in mass communication at Bridgewater State University when his brother offered him a full-time job at his pool supply store. He knew this was not the job he had envisioned.

So, the brown-hair, blue-eyed Lindberg contacted a local Coast Guard recruiter. After he learned about the public affairs rating, he knew it was directly in line with his interests.

“The public affairs rating popped up, and it was identical to what I was going to school for,” Lindberg said.

However, as for almost all entry level Coast Guardsmen, the route to his eventual specialty was not direct. After boot camp, Lindberg was sent to a high-endurance cutter out of Kodiak, Alaska, working as a fireman and ensuring the engine room remained in check.

He enjoyed his time aboard the ship, he said. Living on the boat, doing various missions and visiting unusual places were all highlights for Lindberg.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my job, and the traveling and all the different missions we did,” he said.

After going through a screening process and working for two years aboard the cutter, Lindberg traveled to Fort Meade to study public affairs at DINFOS.

He graduated in 2008 and was assigned to a public affairs detachment in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He realized quickly how exciting and challenging the job can be.

“That’s probably one of the best tours I’ve had yet,” he said. “There was constant learning, especially my first year there.”

He was the spokesman for the sailboat case during this time.

After a few years, Lindberg was reassigned to the Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay in Baltimore, where he achieved the rank of petty officer second class in 2012.

In 2014, another opportunity came Lindberg’s way. He was offered a teaching positon at DINFOS.

Lindberg said that this spot was usually reserved for those of a higher rank than he was at the time, but the Coast Guard allows individuals to “fleet up,” filling spots normally reserved for higher-ranked persons. Superiors need to see that they have displayed excellence in their career field and that they have taken the necessary steps for advancement.

Lindberg received a letter of recommendation from his supervisor in Baltimore, saying he was a high performer and would be great for the job.

Lindberg said he has enjoyed his time at DINFOS, especially while getting to work with one of his mentors, Renee C. Coleman. A public affairs specialist in the Coast Guard when she came to DINFOS, she once held the same positon Lindberg has now and continues to teach as a civilian.

He said Coleman has been someone he has been learning everything from.

“She has taught me how to be a mentor to the Coast Guardsmen who come here,” Lindberg said.

Lindberg qualified for the first-class advancement after taking a Coast Guard exam and then a job-specific test. However, the assessment did not end there.

“There is a final score determined by award points, how long I’ve been an E-5 for, how long I’ve been in the Coast Guard for and my evaluations,” he said.

Lindberg said he is not sure whether he will stay in and climb the enlisted ranks or apply to become a public affairs warrant officer.

“I just take it tour by tour, but it’s harder to get out the longer you stay in,” he said.

No matter what route he chooses, Lindberg will continue to influence the future public affairs specialists who come through the doors of DINFOS.

“The Coast Guard is lucky to have him,” Chapman said. “He is going to kick butt at whatever he does.”